Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How the Helios Education Foundation uses SmartSimple to help youth build marketable skills

73 million young people around the world between the ages of 16 - 24 were unemployed in 2016. That makes them three times more likely than adults to be out of work.

The problem really hits home when you consider that it means  20 million Americans are currently not working who could be.

So what is being done to reverse this trend? With events taking place all over the world this coming July 15 to commemorate Work Youth Skills Day, it’s good to know there are organizations tackling this important issue, getting to the root causes and finding ways to increase the number of opportunities available for youth everywhere.
The Helios Education Foundation is one such organization, taking the initiative to provide grants and form strategic partnerships with communities across Arizona and Florida. Helios strives to provide the resources needed to ensure everyone has access to the education needed to build the skills that will improve their chances of achieving gainful, sustainable employment.

Their 2016 Annual Report  highlights their successes, and shares how and where they invested $17.4 million in Arizona and Florida on initiatives that promote educational success and career-focused skills.


We’re excited to count organizations like Helios among our clients, and SmartSimple takes pride in playing a vital role in helping Helios deliver on their mission. With SmartSimple, Helios has:
  • A truly organizational solution that tracks engagements, contracts and users, including grant applicants
  • Ad-hoc reporting capabilities for data, such as the current number of open grants, can be created in seconds
  • Improved efficiencies in areas such as approvals and payments, that ensure grant agreements are signed, and awards distributed faster

“SmartSimple is absolutely invaluable for managing our grants and other activities...we’ve discovered new processes and ways to bring other aspects of our organization into our SmartSimple system.”
Linda Thompson, Senior Vice President and Chief Impact Officer

How did we help Helios deliver a total of 18,000 scholarships to young Arizonans and Floridians to further their education? Read the full story.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

SmartSimple Expands Down Under

This month, SmartSimple landed its first client in Australia, as part of a broader expansion plan to grow our presence in Asia-Pacific (APAC).

In Australia, SmartSimple will offer process automation solutions to a government-backed agency in New South Wales (NSW) who lead on a strategic Government-backed economic development initiative.  

NSW is Australia’s startup capital, with nearly half of startup businesses calling Sydney home.

“Australia is a priority growth market, and having our first client here establishes SmartSimple as a truly global provider of software solutions,” said Michael Reid, Co-Founder of SmartSimple.
Photo by Frances Gunn on Unsplash
“We anticipate significant growth through our ability to offer comprehensive, dedicated solutions to new clients, and our commitment to host data in the jurisdiction of the client through our partnerships with AWS (Amazon Web Services). Importantly, our presence in APAC will complement and connect the ongoing development of our global Partner Network.”

“With strong growth in North America and EMEA over the past five years, we have been laying the groundwork for international expansion for some time. Australasia is a natural step as we strive to build our business and meet new clients’ needs” added Cameron McLean, President of SmartSimple.

“In terms of the acquisition of SmartSimple’s newest client, our priority is to support their mission, by delivering an automation platform that’s tailored specifically around their process needs. To achieve this, we’ve just spent a month working directly with the client on-site to ensure a successful implementation.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SmartSimple attend AWS Public Sector Summit


SmartSimple attended the AWS (Amazon Web Services) Public Sector Summit in Washington, D.C. this month (June 12-14), when we were presented with an award in recognition of being designated an AWS Government Competency Partner for our expertise in delivering solutions to the government sector.

The annual gathering brings together AWS clients and partners, and provides an opportunity to build and accelerate public sector business by being connected with other, like-minded organizations that also service the public sector.

Katie Houghton, Partner Program Manager & Alex Wong, Director of Marketing.
Representatives from our Toronto office included Katie Houghton, Partner Program Manager, and Alex Wong, Director of Marketing.
Launched at AWS’s 2016 Annual Conference (known as re:Invent), AWS Public Sector Partners are regarded as service delivery experts in one or more of the following categories: government, primary & K-12 education, secondary & postsecondary education, and nonprofits.
SmartSimple received the distinction as a Public Sector Partner based on our proven ability to provide leading client solutions to government, education and nonprofit organizations, while effectively migrating them to the AWS cloud.

Beyond the Public Sector Partner designation, AWS also awarded SmartSimple with a Government Competency, an exclusive group of partners with deep experience in delivering mission-critical applications on AWS. Less than twenty-five organizations have been hand-picked for this designation. They include Lockheed Martin, Adobe Systems, and Accenture Federal Services.  

"This award from AWS in recognition of our contribution as a service provider to government, further demonstrates how SmartSimple has established itself at the forefront of the cloud, cybersecurity and DevOps. Within the public sector alone, we've guided numerous organizations and federal agencies in securely adopting AWS cloud, while minimizing their operational costs, optimizing architectures and maintaining regulatory compliance – all with the end result of delivering a leading automation platform that exceeds our client's requirements” says Michael Reid, Co-Founder & COO of SmartSimple.
"AWS offers unrivaled flexibility, access to resources on demand, and the ability to scale to meet clients’ evolving needs. Our competency in AWS cloud infrastructure, complex applications, and regulatory controls is a signal of our commitment to working with those in the public, education and nonprofit sectors."
In addition to the Public Sector Partner Program, SmartSimple has also been awarded the designation of Advanced Technology Partner, the second highest partner tier in AWS’s partner hierarchy, in addition to being an AWS SaaS partner.

To learn more, read this recent blog by AWS.
For more information about who we are and the products we offer, please visit smartsimple.com

SmartSimple Dublin welcomes clients from across Europe


The 2017 European Community Conference took place in Dublin last month (May 26) focusing on the theme, ‘Making the Most of Your Data’.
Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience (Toronto)
Almost forty delegates from France, Denmark, Poland & the UK were in attendance, including representatives from AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Damvad Analytics; members of our Partner Program.
The  annual  event  is  an invaluable  opportunity  for SmartSimple clients from a wide cross section of sectors and industries to knowledge share, and further their understanding of our platform’s capabilities.
In line with the theme, ‘making the most of your data’, topics up for discussion ranged from data visualization and optimizing communication tools, to handling big data.

Brian Fallon, Director of Operations for EMEA 
Brian Fallon, Director of Operations for EMEA, and Brendan Bradley, Director of Strategic Accounts, opened the day of learning with a céad míle fáilte (welcome), followed by an update on our technology advancements over the last year, as well as a sneak peak into the future.

Guest speaker Mørk Puggaard, Managing Partner at DAMVAD Analytics, delivered an insight session on the practical application of predictive analytics, while Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience (based in SmartSimple Toronto), discussed the ways in which the SmartSimple platform brings data to life - helping our clients to see the numbers that matter, faster.

Chris Kulczyk, SmartSimple Dublin
Throughout the day, representatives from the Dublin office hosted ‘Ask the Expert’ booths, to answer client questions and provide dedicated, one-on-one consultations.

This year’s conference represented a high watermark for attendance. Thank you to all who joined us to make the event a success!



For more information about who we are and the products we offer, please visit smartsimple.com

The best learning is shared: round-up on Block Party Chicago

Our clients told us they wanted to learn from other users - we listened.

Over thirty SmartSimple clients, including leading global employers, government, arts funding agencies and foundations, met in Chicago last week (Thursday, June 15) for the second in a series of Block Party client events.

Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience, with attendees
Launched as a four-stop roadshow across the US & Canada, this user-led initiative puts a focus on ‘learning from each other’, and comes in response to client feedback requesting more opportunities to share best practices.
At each Block Party event, clients in the SmartSimple community gain insight into how others configure their platform to meet their unique process needs, and discover how SmartSimple's functionality can be used in different ways.
                              
Todd Lapin, Director of Sales & Business Development
The busy day of learning at Block Party Chicago was structured around two key parts. Demo presentations were delivered by both Melodie Sanders, Financial Analyst at the Harrington Discovery Institute, as well as Josh Doubleday, Project Manager at Crown Family Philanthropies. Both gave an up-close look at how each of their solutions is configured around their grantmaking processes.

This was followed by a program of shared-learning sessions and fun activities, facilitated by a team of SmartSimple experts. Each session focused on a specific technical area - framed around discussion questions designed to encourage participants to exchange their thoughts, ideas and experiences around the platform’s features and functionality.

Missed Block Party Chicago?
The Block Party roadshow comes to Washington D.C. on September 7. Keep an eye on our events page for more information as it becomes available.


Here’s some of the feedback we’ve had in from attendees:

“It really was great to be able to network with other users and I’m really excited about how we can continue to leverage SmartSimple to create better efficiencies for our staff and external users.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Discover the highlights of our May upgrade

Usability has been at the forefront of this upgrade. As part of our commitment to making the platform even quicker and easier to use, we’ve significantly cut down the time it takes to configure and make changes to your system. For end users, we’ve continued our priority focus on improving user experience on both desktop and mobile devices.


User Experience

Enhanced Settings pages

With system administrators in mind, we’ve enhanced navigation on the ‘Settings’ pages so that choices are clearer and it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Here’s what you’ll notice:

  • Need a particular setting? We’ve added a search function to the top right corner; 
  • Some menu options are reorganized and renamed - so finding what you need is straightforward;
  • Lesser used settings are out of the way in the ‘Classic Options’ tab:
  • Layout and navigation of a number of pages has been revamped for ease of use.



Better usability for mobile devices

Creating mobile experiences that are even more responsive across all devices is important to us, and something we wanted to focus on. As part of this upgrade, we’ve adapted web content to different sized screens, so that the SmartSimple interface looks great on smartphones and tablets.










Functionality

Quicker way to update custom fields 

It’s now quicker and easier for system administrators to configure and update custom fields. Rather than navigating to various settings pages, administrators can now update field configuration in a new ‘Configuration Mode’ when viewing a record. This means there is no longer the need to find which field to update in the custom field list. Configuration Mode also provides shortcuts to major settings pages, so administrators can easily flip between making configuration changes to testing them.


New Syntax Checker tool (in Beta)

The introduction of a Syntax Checker tool enables system administrators to easily test the resolution of variable syntax on a record. An option for using the tool can also be found when viewing a record in Configuration Mode (detailed above).












Making shortcuts work for you 

Do you or your users rely on shortcuts to find what you need faster? Look out for three new upgrades that improve navigation and offer an even better user experience:
  • Instead of a single section for all your shortcuts, you can now configure and tailor individual shortcuts in any portal section - meaning you only see the ones you use most;
  • Give your portal a new look by assigning each shortcut an icon from a library of eye-catching symbol options;
  • Connect a shortcut to a list view to display aggregate figures and bring your data to life in dashboards.



Split-screen functionality

Need to review two documents simultaneously? Our new split-screen functionality means you can view two applications (parent and child record) side-by-side, without having to manually move and resize windows. It’s particularly useful for reviewing grant applications and assessing case files.

Screen sharing technology (in Beta)

The introduction of screen sharing technology means that system content can now be shared in real-time with others. Use the feature to collaborate on a case file, guide your applicants through an application, or when you require assistance from our Technical Support team.

Fast, new way to download multiple files

Downloading more than one file attachment directly from a Level 1 or Level 2 list view is now quicker and easier than ever before with a new group download feature for multiple records. Once downloaded, attachments can then be accessed anywhere, anytime.


Security

Advanced security setting

While SmartSimple adheres to the most respected security standards in the industry, we’re always looking for ways to offer our clients added security options tailored to their specific needs. Our new Enhanced Security Mode is an advanced feature that when enabled, will automatically set and lock security settings throughout your system, and configure the highest level of protection available.

Who is it useful for?
Recommended for organizations with stringent security compliance (i.e. government agencies).

Important to note:
Enabling the Enhanced Security Mode will disable a number of system features. Please speak with one of our Technical Account Advisors in the first instance for more information.


Upgrade release notes

A glossary of upgrade features and enhancements, including additional notes for system administrators, is available on the SmartSimple Wiki.


Q&A Sessions - May Upgrade

Tuesday, May 30, 2:00 PM EST
Thursday, June 1, 10:00 AM EST

Join Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience, for a Q&A session that’s specifically designed to guide you through each new upgrade feature and enhancement, answer your questions, and help you make the most of your system.

Register here

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The best learning is shared: round-up on Block Party Toronto

Our clients told us they wanted to learn from other users - we listened.


Over thirty SmartSimple clients, including leading global employers, government, arts funding agencies and foundations, met in Toronto last month for the first in a new series of Block Party client events.

Left-right: Ana Mijatovic, RBC; Trisha Zeller, UnitedHealth Group;
Megan DuPont, 
Citigroup and Cameron McLean, President, SmartSimple
Launched as a four-stop roadshow across the US & Canada, this user-led initiative puts a focus on ‘learning from each other’, and comes in response to client feedback requesting more opportunities to share best practice.

At each Block Party event, clients in the SmartSimple community will gain insight into how others configure their platform to meet their unique process needs, and discover how SmartSimple's functionality can be used in different ways.  
                               
The busy day of learning at Block Party Toronto was structured around two key parts. A demo presentation delivered by Jen Carter, Manager of Policy & Strategic Issues at City of London (Ontario), gave an up-close look at how their solution is configured around their grants processes.

Jen Carter, City of London
This was followed by a program of shared-learning sessions, facilitated by a team of SmartSimple experts. Each session focused on a specific technical area, and encouraged participants to exchange their views and experiences of the platform’s features and functionality.




Missed Block Party Toronto?

Alex Wong, Director of Marketing, SmartSimple

The Block Party roadshow comes to Chicago on Thursday, June 15. Find out more and register here.

Alternatively, visit our events page to view the Block Party schedule in full.





Here’s some of the feedback we’ve had in from attendees:

“Overall, it was a great educational and networking event for the users. Thank you very much for organizing it. I'm already looking forward to Block Party Toronto in 2018.”

“Block Party Toronto was beyond valuable in bouncing thoughts past other SmartSimple users, both new and experienced, as well as driving discussion on what has worked, and reviewing opportunities to enhance our configuration.”

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Meet Arjun: get to know the experts behind SmartSimple

SmartSimple’s Community Support Center provides global system support to 66,000 monthly users across 192 countries. Arjun Hiranandani, Technical Account Advisor, explains the role of technical support and what it means for our clients.


Arjun Hiranandani, Technical Account Advisor, SmartSimple
Describe your role  

I’m a Technical Account Advisor within the Community Support Center, based here in our Toronto office. I’m one of 10 advisors who look after close to 2,250 client requests every month, resolving 87% of requests in full. Our biggest priority is doing everything we can to exceed our clients’ expectations, giving them the care and attention that SmartSimple is known for. It’s one reason why our client retention rate is at 97%.

In this role, having a real passion for quality client care is a must. And, it’s not down to good luck that for two-years running, our clients have given us a satisfaction rating of 8.5 (scored out of 10).


How do you ensure the best service for SmartSimple clients?

We’re always here for our clients, whenever they need us. If any of our 250+ clients around the world have a request or need something sorted out, our in-house system support team are available over the phone, by email, online chat, in-system chat and a critical care line that’s monitored 24/7/365. So - no matter what, when or where, someone is always listening.


What is Premium Support Services?

Many of our clients have complex needs that require a bit more help from us. Premium Support Services offers an extra level of service in that each client has their own Dedicated Support Representative. Clients can also discuss anything related to their system’s functionality and configuration during monthly calls with Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience. Over the last 12-months, the service has grown in popularity, and today, it's relied on by more than 30 of our clients.


What's the best thing about your job, and what’s the greatest challenge?

Being able to turn clients’ requests into a positive IT experience is the best thing about my job.

In terms of challenges, the Community Support Center is fast-paced, and every day brings something new. What's important, is bringing the right attitude to each new challenge.


What happens with client feedback?

Feedback is really important in helping us get a better understanding of how our clients feel about their support experience. We work closely with colleagues across the business to review feedback and find out how we can adapt to bring about improvements, so we continue to deliver the best service possible.


In your spare time?

I head to the beach for walks on weekends. I’m also a self-confessed foodie, and take every chance to travel, just to try new food! Playing and watching soccer is always a big part of my week - I’m a die hard fan of the UK club, Manchester United.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why grantmakers should embrace the power of predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is used to calculate your insurance rates. It even tells retailers how to design their stores. Whether you realize it or not, the uses for predictive analytics aren’t only expanding but becoming more and more ingrained in our daily lives. The world of grants management is no different.
Tim Daciuk, Director, Predictive Analytics

What is Predictive Analytics?

The term “predictive analytics” means different things to different people depending on the context. So what does it mean for grantmakers?

Basically, predictive analytics takes historical information and combines it with data science and math to comment on future events. For granters, that makes it the ideal tool to leverage in order to increase the impact of funding and improve outcomes. How? By using prediction and segmentation.

Prediction

Forecasting outcomes is an important part of what predictive analytics does. By looking at your past granting activities, it can help you make better-informed funding decisions in the future.

Let’s suppose you’re unsure that the $500,000 you allot in annual granting for animal rescue group support across your region is being used effectively. By creating a predictive analytics model, you can see how funds were used, and evaluate if you should commit more funding or less, or create different criteria for the grants you offer.

Segmentation

Simply put, segmentation is the ability to group people, places, or things that have common traits, like applicants, donors, or funding sources (government support, endowments, etc.). For example, applicants seeking grants to improve primary education could be one segment. Those seeking grants to improve middle school education would be another, and so on.
Read more about the challenge of extracting data from text, what the next steps are for granters exploring predictive analytics, and information on an upcoming series of webinars with Tim Daciuk, Director, Data Analytics at SmartSimple on the Peak Grantmaking blog.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hello Hollywood - update on PEAK Grantmaking (formerly GMN) Annual Conference

SmartSimple took to the skies and followed a warmer jet stream down to Hollywood, CA, last week to attend the much anticipated GMN (Grants Managers Network) Annual Conference (March 20-22).


The three-day event is one of the biggest gatherings for grantmakers, and a key event in SmartSimple’s calendar.

This was our 6th year there, and as always, it was a valuable opportunity to catch up with grants managers and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) professionals from across the country, and share the unique benefits of our grants management solutions.

The highlight was a SmartSimple-led seminar on Predictive Analytics, delivered by guest presenter, John McConnell, Founder of Analytical People​. Based in London (England), Analytical People has helped businesses and organizations to interpret data intelligence for over 20 years.
Our time in Hollywood came to a wrap with a networking reception, co-hosted with our partners at The Innovation Network, a nonprofit evaluation and research firm who work closely with the voluntary sector.

Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience at SmartSimple comments:

"GMN’s Annual Conference is a fantastic opportunity to spend time with grantmakers and listen to their evolving needs. Sharing information on what to watch out for when choosing a grants management system is an important part of discussions. For us as technology experts, the conference gives crucial insight into the opportunities and challenges within granting - as we strive to push the limits on some of the biggest process hurdles facing our clients. Sincere thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat with us!"  



Interested in learning more about our grants management solutions?
Contact us to schedule a demo that’s tailored around your granting needs.

Visit smartsimple.com
Call  866.239.0991 (toll-free)
Email sales@smartsimple.com

Read what our clients say about us
Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the U.S., looked to SmartSimple in 2014 to help track, manage and report across multiple grants programs, and give true understanding into the impact of their funding efforts. Find out what they have to say about us here